Thursday, August 22, 2013


What we've known all along...this is an intentional, coordinated effort to lower the mandated age for rabies vaccine and thereby subject dogs to licensing at an earlier age.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rabies Challenge Fund <>
Sent: Thu, Aug 22, 2013 7:47 pm

URGENT:  CALIFORNIA Rabies Bill AB 272 was amended for the 5th time on August 20, 2013 by the Senate, once again lowering the age at which puppies must be vaccinated against rabies to 3 months.  The bill now reads:  "Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of three months or older, shall, at intervals of time not more than once a year, as may be prescribed by the department, procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by the department and administered accordign to the vaccine label..."

What You Can Do to Help:

Please immediately contact your Senator and Assemblymember (you can find your legislators & their contact information at this link, as well as the bill sponsor, Assemblymember Gomez, (916) 319-2051 & ask them to OPPOSE or WITHDRAW this bill!  Ask any California dog owners you know to do the same.

AB 272 Bill Status & History


Below are letters of opposition to AB 272 from Dr. W. Jean Dodds and Kris L. Christine of The Rabies Challenge Fund.



W. Jean Dodds, DVM

         938 Stanford Street
       Santa Monica, CA 90403
 310-828-4804; Fax 310-453-5240
May 10, 2013                                                                                  Re: Assembly Bill AB 272
Senator Ed Hernandez                                        By Facsimile to 916-324-0384
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Greetings Senator Hernandez:
I am a veterinarian and resident of Santa Monica.  I am also the Co-Trustee of The Rabies Challenge Fund (RCF) Charitable Trust.
Attached is a letter written by Kris Christine, the Founder and Co-Trustee of the RCF on March  14, 2013 , when our group, among others, was voicing strong opposition on medical and scientific grounds to rabies bill, AB272.   Now that this bill passed the Assembly, despite the opposition, it has been assigned to your Senate Health Committee.
AB 272 would require that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies at the age of 3 months instead of 4 months.  Lowering the required age of rabies vaccination to 3 months not only increases the likelihood of adverse vaccine reactions when added to other puppy vaccines given at 3 months, but also may fail to adequately immunize due to residual maternal antibodies.
Please bear in mind that this bill is sponsored by the Health Officers Association of California, a group of human health professionals, rather than by veterinary medical professionals, who clearly have a direct special interest in protecting the health and well-being of animals.  
If you have any questions or would like any of the scientific and/or medical data referenced in the attached letter, you can reach me in California at our veterinary clinic (714) 891-2022 or via e-mail at

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Co-Trustee, The Rabies Challenge Fund, and,
President, Hemopet
11561 Salinaz Avenue,
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Fax 714-891-2123                                                             

March 14, 2013
Assemblymember Mike Gatto, Chair         Assemblymember Susan T. Eggman, Chair
Assembly Appropriations Committee        Assembly Agriculture Committee
RE:     AB 272 An Act to Amend Section 121690 of the Health and Safety Code
            Relating to Rabies
Greetings Assemblymembers Gatto and Eggman :
            There are some misrepresentations and inaccuracies relating to AB 272 which should be clarified before another vote is taken on this measure.  On February 14, Dr. W. Jean Dodds, a California veterinarian, and Co-Trustee of the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, corrected and clarified this misinformation regarding AB 272 in an e-mail to the Acting Director of Veterinary Public Health, Dr. Karen Ehnert, but apparently this information was not conveyed to the bill sponsor or members of the Agriculture or Appropriations Committees (see attached e-mail), or it was disregarded.
            The Agriculture Committee comments on AB 272 report that "California is the only state that sets a minimum age of four months for dogs rabies vaccination."  This statement is false.  Only twelve (12) out of  fifty (50) states require that dogs be vaccinated by 3 months (Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania) .  Thirteen (13) states require that dogs be vaccinated by the age of  4 months (Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia); one (1) state (Wisconsin) requires vaccination by 5 months; and six (6) require vaccination by the age of  6 months (Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, West Virginia), and twelve (12) refer to the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians' Rabies Compendium which recommends that rabies vaccines should be administered according to the manufacturers' labeled instructions.   Rabies vaccine labels indicate that they may be given at 3 months, not that they must be.  It is implied in the comments that the Compendium advises that puppies should or must be vaccinated at 3 months of age, which is not the case.
            Merial's IMRAB rabies vaccine labels indicate that they "can be administered to puppies as early as 3 months of age" and Pfizer's Defensor rabies vaccine labels advise that they are for dogs and cats "3 months of age or older."  These instructions denote the minimum age at which it is safe to administer rabies vaccines (i.e., do not administer before 3 months of age) and not a minimum age at which they must be administered to be effective.  Scientific data reflect that the later a puppy can be vaccinated, the more likely the vaccine will have the desired immunological response due to reduced interference of maternal antibodies, which are still present in 3 month old puppies.  The 2011 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines reports that: "Because dogs older than 14-16 wk of age are not likely to have interfering levels of MDA [maternally derived antibodies], administration of a single initial dose of an infectious vaccine to an adult dog can be expected to induce a protective immune response. ..... MDA is the most common reason early vaccination fails to immunize." [1]
            Contributing to the likelihood of failure to achieve a proper immune response to rabies vaccination at 3 months is that puppies are finishing up their initial vaccination series of  distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus at 12 weeks (3 months) of age.   Addition of a rabies vaccine into the mix will not only increase the possibility of adverse reactions, but also the probability that the vaccine components will interfere with each other and neutralize or negate an appropriate immunological response. [2] [3]
            In her e-mailed message concerning AB 272 to Dr. Dodds and me, Dr. Ehnert wrote that:  "[t]o clarify, the one word change allows for dogs to be vaccinated at 3 months of age, but does not mandate it." This is a misrepresentation of the bill as worded and the committee summary declaring that "[t]his bill changes, from four months to three months, the age at which a dog is required to be vaccinated against rabies."  Addition of a clause such as "or previously vaccinated at the age of three months in another state or country with a rabies vaccine licensed by the USDA" to the current law requiring vaccination at four months would accomplish that goal without changing the mandated age of vaccination to three months.
            Dr. Ehnert also explained that one of the reasons she has "pushed" for this change is she and the Health Officers Association "… want to give owners the opportunity to vaccinate puppies earlier when there is increased risk.  The past two years we have seen a 4 -5 fold increase in bat rabies in LA County, with some areas being hot spots."  There has been no escalation in canine rabies corresponding to the increase in bat rabies, which according to the Department of Health's Reported Animal Rabies, for Los Angeles County there were no cases of rabid dogs from 2010 through 2012, while there were 114 rabid bats (22 in 2010, 38 in 2011, and 54 in 2012—representing an increase of nearly 2.5 times instead of a 4-5 fold increase).  Statewide, there have only been three cases of rabies in dogs since 2007, as opposed to 981 rabid bats and 147 rabid skunks for the same period, which evidences the fact that the current law requiring puppies to be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age is effective at controlling rabies in California's canine community and does not need to be changed. 
            To address the concern over a rising increase in rabies in the bat population spilling over into the domestic pet population, Dr. Ehnert and other members of the Health Officers Association of California should request introduction of a bill requiring that all cats in California be vaccinated against rabies, as cats are reported to be 4 times as likely to be infected with rabies as dogs.[4]  The Chair of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, Dr. Catherine M. Brown, stated that "[b]ecause more rabies cases are reported annually involving cats…than dogs, vaccination of cats should be required."
As it currently stands, the law requiring puppies to be vaccinated at 4 months of age is and has been effective at controlling rabies in California's canine population.  There is no epidemiological or scientific rationale for changing this law and prematurely exposing puppies to the potentially harmful, sometimes fatal, adverse side affects of the rabies vaccine prior to the age of 4 months.
On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund, a registered California Charitable Trust, and the many concerned California pet owners who have requested our assistance, I strongly urge you to oppose passage of AB 272 as it is currently written.
Respectfully submitted,
Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee
Pages:  8

cc:  Dr. W. Jean Dodds
       Dr. Ronald Schultz
       Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez
       California Assembly 

[1] American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2011 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature,  p.12
[2] American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature,  p.16
[3] Moore, et als., Adverse Events Diagnosed Within Three Days of Vaccine Administration in Dogs; Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association., Vol. 227, No. 7, October 1, 2005
[4] Blanton JD, et al. Rabies Surveillance in the United States During 2008. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association  2009; 235: 676-690.


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Rabies Challenge Fund
c/o Hemopet
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843
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